With Holliday signed, Damon still looking for new deal

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Johnny Damon, the unfortunate victim of the lengthy Matt Holliday negotiations, is still awaiting his next contract.

“Well, I knew I’d have to wait until some of the bigger hitters like Jason Bay and Matt Holliday went
places, and now I’m just waiting to see what’s in store for me,” Damon
said. “I knew I’d probably have to take a pay cut, just based on the
way the economy is in this country and baseball, but I thought I had a
productive season and I think I showed people I can play and still do
something at a high level.”

He told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he approached the Yankees
with an annual salary of $10 million, but they were more comfortable
with a contract in the $6-7
million range. Not willing to take a pay cut, he hasn’t had any
conversations with the Bombers lately. While further talks wouldn’t surprise
him, he’s “just kind of going on” with his life. One possible destination that has emerged
is the Braves, whose Disney Spring Training complex is just a few
minutes from his home in Orlando.

“Atlanta would be great,” he said. “I’m wide open. There are a handful
of teams who, in my opinion, could win and I’d like to see what kind of
availability there would be with those clubs.”

The Braves could have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the
market and sign Damon on an Adrian Beltre-type deal, but if his price
drops far enough, I’d never say never on the Yankees. Gee, it’s like
they knew it would take Matt Holliday forever to sign, leaving Damon
grasping at straws to find a lucrative deal before Spring Training.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.